Like other states, Indiana prohibits driving without a valid driver's license. This article explains what constitutes a violation, the possible penalties, and the exceptions to the rule.
Generally, every person who operates a motor vehicle on an Indiana highway must possess and be able to display a valid driver's license.
License not in possession. A driver who is licensed but did not have the license in his or her immediate possession can be cited for a class C infraction and fined up to $500. Within five days of the citation, a driver can present a then-valid driver's license at the police station to have the citation dismissed.
Refusal to produce license. A driver who possesses a license but refuses an officer's request to see it can be issued a class C traffic infraction citation. This can result in a judgment of up to $500.
Driving without a valid license. Driving without ever having been issued a license can result in a class C misdemeanor conviction. A class C misdemeanor conviction carries up to 60 days in jail and a maximum fine of $500. A second or subsequent offense is a class A misdemeanor, which can result in up to one year in jail and a maximum $5,000 in fines.
Exceptions. Non-resident drivers with valid driver's licenses from their home state or country can drive in the state without an Indiana license so long as they meet Indiana's age requirements. New residents may drive for 60 days before obtaining an in-state license. Farmers, military personnel, and road workers are exempt from the normal licensing requirements under certain circumstances. Also, Indiana cities are authorized to regulate the unlicensed use of non-highway vehicles and golf carts, so check local ordinances for such exemptions.
A person who operates a vehicle while on a suspended or revoked license may face jail time and fines.
Offense-related. Many licenses are suspended due to an "offense" (conviction) such as a DUI. Any person convicted of driving while suspended for such an offense is guilty of a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $5,000.
Other suspensions. Drivers who were suspended for any other reason, such as failing to pay child support or tickets, are guilty of a class A infraction for a first occurrence. This results in a judgment of up to $10,000. A second offense within ten years will be a class A misdemeanor, which carries a fine up to $5,000 and a maximum one year in jail.
Felony. Any person who was driving while suspended and causes an injury accident can be convicted of a class 5 or 6 felony. Habitual violators who are caught driving while suspended will also face felony charges.
Suspension. Indiana no longer directly requires additional suspension periods for driving while suspended or driving without a license, but instead, permits the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) to regulate suspension periods. The BMV presently assesses points for these violations and may then issue a suspension based upon the driver's history.